September 18, 2013 9:59:24 PM
Consider the lesson learned because Barrett Donahoe and the Heritage Academy football team have moved on.
After a 37-0 loss to Jackson Academy on Friday night, there's not much else Donahoe and the Patriots can do. As disappointing as the home loss to the nine-time state champions was, the silver lining for Heritage Academy (3-1) is it comes early enough in the season for the team to use it as an example of what not to do and how not to play, especially if it wants to have a chance to defend its Mississippi Association of Independent Schools Class AAA, Division II state title.
"We did what we had to do with that game film, we broke it down, we watched it as a group," Donahoe said. "They embarrassed us as a coaching staff and a football team. We closed the laptop after the film session and said we were done. They were a better football team. We didn't play good. When you put those two things together, it was ugly, and it was ugly."
Donahoe said prior to the game that he wanted his players to treat it as just another conference game, even though Heritage Academy never has defeated Jackson Academy. With a game at 7 p.m. Friday at Hillcrest Christian in Jackson up next, Donahoe has turned his focus toward correcting the issues that contributed to his team's first loss and to making sure the team gets back on track.
"I think we have emphasized what not to do enough already," Donahoe said. "If we have to continue to emphasize that as what not to do and that continues to be an issue, we're not the caliber of football team I thought we were. That game hopefully stands alone in our actions and the way we played."
Donahoe said the Patriots need to play better assignment football, to tackle better, to be faster on offense, and to play as if they want to compete in a game rather than just get through it. He said missed assignments are one thing, but the Patriots has way too many instances of a lack of effort in missing the assignments. He said those issues are solvable, but he realizes it will take all of the coaches and all of the players being committed to changing those things to make sure the Patriots get back to their winning ways.
Heritage Academy generated little offense against a fundamentally sound defense that allowed few yards after contact. The Patriots also had difficulty handling senior running back Duncan Maxwell, who rushed for a touchdown and caught a touchdown pass in the first half. He didn't play in the second half because the game was well in hand.
Despite the fast start to the season, Donahoe said inexperience caught up to the Patriots against the Raiders. He said he and the coaches have to step back and realize they have a lot of first-year players in key spots and young players in others. Still, he said it was surprising to see what he saw from his team.
"We had gone through a stretch of 11 games dating back to the Clarksdale Lee game from last year where we had not seen us fail to compete," Donahoe said. "I reference back to the MRA game last year, where we failed to compete in the second half of that game and we say a lot of the same habits. When you have been consistent over the course of 10 or 11 games with your attitude and your efforts, to see us begin to slip a bit was surprising. It was eye-opening for us."
Donahoe knows the loss will be a motivation for him and his coaches. He hopes it will be the same for his players. He told them they can look at the game from a glass half full and a glass half empty perspective. He hopes everyone takes the glass half full approach and asks what can the Patriots learn from the game and about themselves moving forward.
"All is not broken, and we need to be very understanding that we played a very good football team and we didn't compete at that level, though," Donahoe said, "and we have to find a way to compete at that level."
Adam Minichino is the Sports Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.